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'A great way to end my career' - Ex-Ireland defender McShane retires to coach at Man United

The 36-year-old returned to his first senior club as an academy player-coach last year.

McShane last lined out for Ireland in 2016.
McShane last lined out for Ireland in 2016.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

PAUL MCSHANE HAS announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 36.

The Wicklow native joined Manchester United from St Joseph’s Boys as a teenager and climbed the club’s ranks – winning the FA Youth Cup in 2003. 

After loan spells at Walsall and Brighton, McShane left on a permanent deal to West Brom in 2006, having not made his full debut for United. 

The defender has gone on to make over 400 club appearances during spells with the Baggies, Sunderland, Hull City, Reading and Rochdale. 

He earned automatic promotion to the Premier League with the Tigers in 2013, and was an FA Cup runner-up the following season. 

soccer-npower-football-league-championship-hull-city-v-cardiff-city-kc-stadium Celebrating a goal with Hull City team-mate David Meyler in 2013. Source: Mike Egerton

Handed his senior international debut in October 2006, he was capped 33 times the Republic of Ireland and earned a late call-up to the Euro 2012 squad as a replacement for Kevin Foley. 

In July 2021, McShane returned to United in a player-coaching role with the U23s. 

He has announced today that he will hang up the boots to concentrate solely on coaching their academy in the Professional Development Phase (U18 to U23).

“I’m calling it a day playing now,” McShane said. “I’ve had 20 years playing and I’ve come back into the club as a player-coach in the U23s. It’s been a great year and great experience but now it’s time to fully focus on the next stage of my career, which will be in coaching.

“It’s amazing how things work out. It’s a great way to end my career, to come back here and help the future generation with their careers.

It was perfect, to be honest with you, when this role came about, and I’m grateful to the people who made it happen. I think it’s a great way to end my playing days.

“I am [proud]. Sometimes when you’re on the journey itself, you can get lost in it. It’s a career where there’s lots of ups and downs and there’s so many challenges, but now, I think I can look back and have fond memories of different stages of my career.”

soccer-manchester-senior-cup-final-manchester-city-v-manchester-united-city-of-manchester-stadium The Wicklow man began his career at Manchester United. Source: EMPICS Sport

He added: “I was just a young lad from County Wicklow in Ireland. I think my dream at the start was to play for St Joseph’s Boys, which was a Dublin team, because around my area, if you played for that team, you were known as a decent footballer, so that was the start of my dream.

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“When I got there, my dream grew bigger and bigger and I look back at some of the games I’ve played in and I’ve played against the best players in the world and played with many great players as well. Being here at Man United and now finishing with Man United as a player-coach, it’s been a hell of a journey. I’m grateful for it.

There’s a few stand-out moments. It’s hard to pinpoint one that was my favourite. Just having a football career, firstly. I look back at the challenges that I faced and having the ability to keep going, looking back I was quite mentally strong, I think I always picked myself up from disappointments.

“[If I was to pick] moments, I’d say my Irish debut, representing my country in every game that I played in, my Premier League debut, getting promoted with Hull on the last day, captaining Reading, the FA Cup final. It’s been great, and over the next week or two, maybe I can look back and appreciate what I’ve been through over the past 20 years.”

jan-koller-of-the-czech-republic-scores Battling with Czech Republic striker Jan Koller on his senior Ireland debut. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I’ll be working alongside the coaches in the PDP [Professional Development Phase]. It’s great for me to see up and down the age groups. It’s sort of what I’ve had this year but I can fully dive into that now, now I don’t have one eye on playing. I just want to try and help the players as much as I can.”

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